Category Archives: Linda Cole

Pet-Safe Ways to Rid Your Home of Rodents

By Linda Cole

Mice are experts at finding ways into our homes. Cracks, holes and crevices in foundations provide easy access, and if you see one mouse there’s likely more lurking about in the walls, duct work, attics and basements. Some people use rodent poison to get rid of mice and rats, but it poses a grave danger to cats and dogs and shouldn’t be used in a home with pets. There are ways to rid your home of rodents that are safer for your pets and more humane for the mice.

Even though I have cats and dogs, I still get mice inside my house when the weather turns colder. They are usually caught by one of my pets, which is a natural way of controlling vermin. However, I’m a true blue animal lover, which includes mice. So my challenge is finding ways to deal with the mice that won’t harm them.

Live Mouse Traps can be very effective, as long as you check them several times a day to remove caught rodents, freshen the bait (peanut butter on crackers or dry cat food works well), and make sure you purchase a quality trap. You can find traps to catch multiple mice at a time or smaller ones that hold just one or two. The air supply in some traps is limited and if you don’t remove a mouse soon after it’s caught, it can die from asphyxiation. Trapped mice can then be released outside. Mice can find their way back home, so you’ll need to release it at least ½ mile or so away. The best place is in a wooded or bushy area where they can find shelter and isn’t near other homes.

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Do Pet Owners Form Closer Bonds with Other People?

By Linda Cole

Bonding is something most humans do without thinking about it. As individuals, we each have our own personality, strengths, flaws and preferences. We tend to gravitate towards other people who share our interests, and as the relationship develops, so does bonding. Most pet owners think of their dog or cat as a member of their family and the connection we share with our pets is unique. But does our special bond with a pet help us form closer relationships with other people? According to science, it does.

Beginning some 10,000 years ago, humans and canines formed a unique pact that benefited both species. We know our early ancestors placed great value in their pets because dogs and cats have been found in burial sites with humans, indicating people felt it was important to give their pet a proper burial. Throughout the many decades of animal domestication, the bonds between humans and our furry friends have made us healthier and happier, and helped us cope with life’s surprises. Pets also help us connect with other people because caring for animals gives us a sense of empathy.

Natural disasters and house fires occur every year. We watched with sadness as the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina unfolded. Researchers conducted studies to find out why many New Orleans residents refused to evacuate to safe shelters, and discovered it was because people didn’t want to leave their pets behind. I didn’t know any of these pet owners, but could relate with the decision they had made. Most pet owners are willing to risk their life to save a pet, according to a 2013 Vanity Fair poll that found 81% of dog owners and 71% of cat owners would go back inside their burning home to save their pet.

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Can Pets Suffer From Seasonal Affective Disorder?

SAD KricketBy Linda Cole

SAD is the perfect acronym for Seasonal Affective Disorder. The winter blues or cabin fever can sap your energy, increase your appetite, and bring on a desire to cuddle under a blanket with your pet  and sleep the winter away. In the Midwest where I live, winters can be cold, cloudy, windy, dreary and snowy. Being cooped up inside can cause some people to develop symptoms of SAD, and the farther you live from the equator the more prone you are to experiencing this disorder. Pets can also be affected by a lack of sunshine and shorter daylight hours, and can suffer from seasonal affective disorder.

In Alaska, winter months are cold and dark with very little sunlight throughout the day. The Plains states, the Midwest, areas in New England and Canada also have lower levels of light during the winter months. Studies have shown that people who live in these regions have higher incidents of developing SAD compared to just 2% of people living in Florida. Changes in two hormones, melatonin and serotonin, can cause people with seasonal affective disorder to crave comfort food, overeat, feel tired or lethargic, and experience mood changes, anxiety and weight gain. These are the same symptoms seen in dogs, cats and other animals with SAD.

One of the top veterinary charities in the United Kingdom conducted a survey of pet owners and found that 43% noticed a lack of energy in their pets; 59% said their dog or cat slept longer than usual; and 47% said their pets wanted more attention. Owners also reported that their pet seemed more fatigued and depressed. Boxers, Airedale Terriers, French Bulldogs and Bulldogs, as well as a few other breeds, may also experience seasonal alopecia that causes hair loss and darkening skin in the flank area which, like SAD, is due to a lack of sunlight.

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How to Decipher the Coded Language of Vets

vetspeak  HaPe_GeraBy Linda Cole

Veterinarians have their own coded language that pet owners may have to try to decipher. “Vetspeak” can be confusing, but if we don’t comprehend everything a vet tells us, it’s up to us to ask questions so we can understand what’s wrong with our pet and follow the directions for medication and care. Some of the more common terminology you might hear at the vet or read on a prescription label is listed below.

ADR – This is an acronym that means “ain’t doing right.” When seen on a report or heard, it’s an indication that a pet isn’t doing as well as they could be or not as well as a vet expected. The phrase describes a pet with symptoms that have yet to be diagnosed. You might take your dog or cat in for a checkup if you’ve noticed he isn’t eating like he usually does or isn’t acting like himself. Everything may be alright, but it’s always a good idea to have a pet checked out anytime he isn’t acting like normal. It could be a serious problem that’s just beginning.

BDLD – You may see this abbreviation if your dog had a run in with another dog. It means “big dog/little dog” and indicates the severity and type of injuries a smaller dog may have from an encounter with a bigger dog.

BID – This is actually three Latin words – “bis in die” – that mean if your pet requires medication it’s to be given twice daily. TID means three times a day, and QID means four times daily.

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Can Dogs Really Understand Simple Math?

dogs count tanakBy Linda Cole

Skidboot was an extraordinary dog that entertained people everywhere he went as the World’s Smartest Dog. A crowd pleasing trick involved Skidboot listening to his owner, David Hartwig, count to three before retrieving a ball, but Hartwig mixed up the counting in an attempt to stump his dog. In the end, Skidboot eagerly focused on the ball and pounced on it when Hartwig said three. People were convinced the dog could count. Jim the Wonder Dog was also famous for his ability to recognize numbers, but can canines really understand simple math?

Quantitative thinking is something most people don’t believe dogs are capable of. It’s the concept of analyzing mathematical data in relation to quantity or number and having the ability to figure out if one thing is larger than another. One early experiment that researchers conducted was to see if dogs understood quantity. They used a large and small ball of hamburger, each on a separate plate, and tested dogs to see which one they would choose. When the plates were set at different distances, the dogs took the one closest to them regardless of its size, but when both plates were of equal distance they always chose the larger ball of meat.

Researchers concluded dogs didn’t understand quantitative thinking and couldn’t determine the difference in size. However, what they failed to account for is the opportunistic nature of canines and seemed to discount the fact that dogs picked the large ball of meat when the two plates were side by side.

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How to Tell if Your Pet is Irritated with You

pets irritated penny blankenshipBy Linda Cole

When my Siberian Husky Jake wanted to express his irritation, he’d turn his head away from me as if saying, “I can’t hear a word you’re saying.” Then he’d follow up with some Woo Woo Woo’s to make it clear he was unhappy. My cat Meryl was quick to bond with me when he was a kitten. As far as he was concerned, I belonged to him, and if I hurt his feelings, he made it clear he was irritated. He sat with his back to me and ignored me for an hour or so. That was apparently how long it took for him to forgive me. Dogs and cats aren’t vindictive, but they do have ways of showing us when they are irritated.

The Cold Shoulder – This is a sure sign you have a dog or cat with hurt feelings, and it’s not hard to picture your pet sitting like an irritated human with his front legs crossed while tapping one of his back paws in disgust waiting for an apology. You can almost hear the “Don’t talk to me.” It’s a good thing dogs and cats don’t have opposable thumbs. You might get the cold shoulder, but you won’t get a door slammed in your face.

The Stiff Paw and Head Turn Rejection – I take this action as the ultimate “I am so irritated and do not want to cuddle, hand out kisses, or even look at you right now” sign. This is when an upset dog or cat holds out a stiffened leg and blocks you with a paw to keep you from getting too close when you try to be affectionate. In addition to the stiff paw, he turns his head away from you and the message is loud and clear: you have an irritated furry friend. One of my dogs, Keikei, will also give me a kick with her back leg just in case I missed the other two signs.
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